What happens when you feel stuck? I used to have every excuse in the book for my unhappiness. It was always someone else's fault, or how shitty my upbringing was. I wasn't loved enough, or no one gave me what I needed. My negative attitude led me to a path of depression, anxiety and anger, never able to sustain a healthy relationship with anyone because I would constantly look externally for validation. So that's how I lived my life for decades. I was holding everyone else accountable for my misfortunes, when the answers all came from within.
I've been feeling a little depressed these days and thought I'd utilize some tools I've learned over the years to address it. I realized we can all get affected mentally by changes that happen in our lives. No one is immune to feeling depressed, lonely, anxious or upset, and it's important to recognize even the slightest of these feelings, and address them accordingly.
Remember when we used to describe a person who was quiet and didn't show much emotion as the strong, silent type? I don't often hear that phrase anymore to describe a someone, and I'm glad. I mean, how strong is a person who is silent, especially when it comes to their mental health? Isn't that an oxymoron? For generations, it was seen as a positive trait, to be the strong, silent type. You're cool, collected and can withstand internalized pain. Movies stars portrayed this imagery very well, often looking cool and sexy in the movies if they were stoic.
Basketball has given my son an outlet for his depression and anxiety. It's given him a focal point to practice something he truly enjoys and provides him with entertainment that pulls him away from his negative thought patterns. I'll always love the sport because of what it has given my son.
Throughout all my years of learning about improving my mental health and acknowledging my own personal growth, I sometimes think about how things in my life has happened for a reason. I love to self-reflect because it's a reminder of how far I've come since my days of kicking the dirt on the ground feeling defeated. Things happen for a reason. There's a cause and an effect, and if we choose to see an opportunity, greater things will come to surface given some time and patience.
If anyone is struggling in their relationships, family or work life, assess your history growing up and ask yourself how the environment may have shaped your present belief system. Did you grow up with a lot family violence, arguments and shaming? Were you violated as a child and put down often? Were there major transitions such as divorce of your parents, moving to a different region or the sudden loss of a loved one? Dig deep and learn more about how childhood events such as trauma and abuse impacted you.
Aren't you afraid of what people might think of you? Every now and then I get asked that question since I published Living with the Dragon, launched my online courses on mental health management and publicly opened up about my struggles in the past with depression, anxiety and anger. The initial fear of going public has long since passed. I overcame that fear of judgement because I also knew that very same fear is preventing me from making a significant difference to the mental health community, and it is the very same fear that kept my shame alive after all the years. And as everyone knows, when there's shame, we get stuck at a place of resentment, bitterness and external blaming.
We get thoughts that pop up in our head based on a memory. If your childhood was plagued by bad experiences of abuse, trauma, arguments and family violence, your brain became programmed to those negative experiences. The repetition and patterns of negative behaviors in a negative environment hard wired your brain to have recurring thoughts even as you get older. And since you get thousands of thoughts every day based on your experiences, you'll sometimes get these negative memories creep into your headspace, reminding you of those bad times. These reminders can make way for unhealthy behaviors. This is partly the reason behind depression and anxiety because we create these unhealthy thoughts from our past which creates the depression, and we respond with fear and anxiety.
Those who experienced childhood abuse will go through a different journey than those who didn't. It can be sometimes difficult to explain this journey to someone who's never experienced it before. At the end of the day, it's your journey and your life to own. And finding peace with your journey opens doors to so many great things that you didn't even realize before.
Choices are made based on the thoughts and feelings we have. These thoughts can sometimes be created by past woes, experiences and triggers. Tuning them out isn't as simple as saying you have a choice. People who experienced childhood abuse and trauma need to regain a sense of themselves before they can learn to make healthier choices consistently.